Barbadians now have the opportunity to make more informed decisions when it comes to shopping. They can now keep track of and compare the prices of more than 300 items at various supermarkets and work out the possible cost of fuel to get to the desired location.
And they’ll be able to do it all at one place –– online at www.commerce.gov.bb/shop.
The Ministry of Industry, International Business, Commerce and Small Business Development introduced the new mechanism that gives consumers a comprehensive calculation of the cost of shopping.
Addressing a gathering at the Courtyard By Marriott today for the official launch of the online database, Minister of Industry Donville Inniss said: “This initiative brings about an improved and enhanced approach to gauge and track the movements of food commodity prices, and most importantly to make the information available to the public”.
Adding that the new initiative was not intended to result in an automatic reduction in the cost of living in Barbados, Inniss said the mechanism came against the backdrop of a need to monitor the movement of domestic and international food prices. He added that Barbadians should work harder to separate their needs from their wants.
“Likewise, increased efforts to produce more and consume more of what we produce must no longer be seen like an elusive goal,” stated Inniss.
The system also gives officials at the ministry the ability to track international food prices and make projections on how those prices were likely to affect local prices.
“It is envisaged that this database will provide for a more effective and efficient means of data collection while serving as a tool to undertake analysis to assist in the formulation of national policies and strategies aimed at addressing cost of living issues in Barbados,” Inniss said.
Although not giving the level of investment in the new system, Inniss said it used to cost the Government approximately $200,000 per year to put the information in the print media.
“It is my considered view that that approach is rather archaic and places a strain on the Government’s purse,” said Inniss. “The truth of the matter is having made this small investment in developing an application that can generate that type of information, it certainly makes it a far more cost-effective methodology to be employed. It is my position that the database that is being launched, except for the cost of its design, will thereafter incur no additional cost to the government for us to get this information out to the public in a timely fashion,” he added.
While acknowledging that there were people who might not have access to technology, Inniss said he expected that “over time these persons will come onboard and adapt to the new technology”.
The online database is expected to have added features. It can currently be accessed on most devices with an Internet connection, including tablets and computers. The application has not yet been developed for mobile phones.